The deal came after a weekend of tense negotiations in which Russia refused to back down, leaving the others with what they said was no choice. In post-vote comments directed to the United States, Britain and France, Dmitry Polyanskiy, Russia’s deputy ambassador to the United Nations, said: “It’s time for you to start respecting the opinions of others. states.
All three abstained on the vote, allowing it to pass with the approval of the other 12 council members.
“This vote is what happens when a member of the Security Council holds the entire international community hostage,” Deputy U.S. Ambassador Richard M. Mills said, calling Russia’s intransigence a “game heartless” which “will only serve to hurt the Syrian people.
US fights Russian and Iranian provocations in the Middle East
UN-managed aid shipments to more than 4 million Syrians, many displaced by the country’s 11-year civil war and crowded into Idlib province in the northwest corner of the Syria, came to an abrupt halt on Sunday evening, when the previous UN mandate expired. The area, controlled by militant groups, is one of the last strongholds of opposition to President Bashar al-Assad’s Russian-backed government.
Sending shipments across borders requires a UN warrant. Russia, which argues that the operation is a violation of Syrian sovereignty and that all aid must pass through Damascus, has used its council veto in recent years to limit access, gradually shrinking the corridors of aid from four to one, in Bab al-Hawa. The Single Corridor’s mandate was extended for a year last summer when Russia backed away from insisting on just six months, after lengthy negotiations that included a summit between President Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
That term’s expiration on Sunday came as Washington and Moscow are on opposite sides of the war in Ukraine and no longer speak to each other. Mills, in his Tuesday comments, claimed that “some of the most dire needs” in Syria and around the world “are a direct result of Russia’s brutal invasion of Ukraine,” where it has blocked exports of cereals. “The simple truth is that Russia doesn’t care,” he said.
The mandate will have to be renewed again by January 10, requiring a new debate and a new resolution, in the midst of Syria’s harsh winter. Humanitarian organizations, Mills said, “told us it was better than nothing. That is why we did not oppose this resolution.
Ireland and Norway wrote both the one-year extension and the six-month resolution on Tuesday. “We’ve been here for six months. This is not what we wanted,” Irish Ambassador Geraldine Byrne Nason said.
“Listen, there are no secrets here,” she said after the meeting ended, in response to questions from reporters about the role played by the conflict in Ukraine. “We are dealing with a very difficult geopolitical context.”
“It’s not about politics,” Norwegian Ambassador Mona Juul said. “It’s about making sure we can continue to deliver humanitarian aid to people in need.” Juul added that “we have to remember that the Russian position this year, like the year before, is that they don’t want to have this mechanism” for delivering aid. “That’s their starting point. We managed to make it last another six months.
Aid deliveries have averaged around 800 trucks per month via Bab al-Hawa. Aid groups, while falling short of their intended goal, expressed relief. “Millions of lives depend on it,” said Mark Cutts, UN deputy regional humanitarian coordinator for the Syria crisis.
Kareem Fahim in Istanbul contributed to this report.